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Assorted Lebanese dishes and drinks at Byblos.
Photograph: Supplied / Byblos

The best places to eat in Melbourne during Ramadan

From traditional bakeries to Lebanese institutions, we've rounded up the best spots to break your fast

Lauren Dinse
Written by
Quincy Malesovas
Contributor
Lauren Dinse
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Observed by Muslims across the globe, the holy month of Ramadan is a chance for participants to reflect on what they’re grateful for. And in the name of reflection, it also involves abstaining from all food and drinks from sunrise to sunset. Each day of Ramadan ends with Iftar, where families and friends come together to break their fast. Naturally, it’s a significant occasion that always involves good food – and lots of it. Here are some of Melbourne’s best spots to break your fast.

On the hunt for Melbourne's best Middle Eastern restaurants? Check out our round-up of the city's best purveyors of hummus, falafel and charcoal meats.

Top places to dine in during Ramadan in Melbourne

  • Restaurants
  • Egyptian
  • Carlton

It’s easy to miss amid the bustle of Lygon Street, but Leyalina is well-worth searching out this Ramadan. The menu is an extensive exploration of Egyptian cuisine that begs to be shared. A tagine is a must and comes with your choice of protein and starch – think spiced rice and lamb wrapped in vine leaves or bechamel-smothered bolognese atop a bed of penne. If you prefer organ meat, don’t miss the kebda eskandrany, an Alexandrian dish of cumin, green chilli and garlic-spiced beef liver served with pita bread, tahini and pickles.

Urdu for 'house of taste', Lazzat Kadah serves both Indian and Pakistani food that's as authentic as it gets. Joined by the abundance of quality Middle Eastern and South Asian food along the Coburg corridor of Sydney Road, it's known for both its opulent decor and ever-popular Ramadan buffet. The buffet menu is expansive and exactly the food you’d want to be served to break your fast, starting with dips, soups and salads before moving on to fresh South Asian pastries, chicken tikka straight from the tandoor and versions of biryani, korma and jalfrezi suited for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Docklands
  • price 1 of 4

Byblos Bar and Restaurant combines imaginative Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine with luxurious surroundings, and a world-class drink selection. Priced at only $60 a head (and $30 per child), this eatery's limited edition Ramadan menu is available from March 11 to April 10 in 2024, with guests having the option to pre-order online or walk in and order from sunset each evening. 

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

A hard-to-miss combination of disco, neon lights and old Bollywood films projected on the wall, Daughter in Law’s self-identification of serving inauthentic Australian Indian food only scratches the surface of this vibrant establishment. A little-known fact is that all the meat and chicken at Daughter In Law is halal, though it does serve alcohol so the venue isn't halal certified. With a menu conveniently categorised as ‘from the street’, ‘from the tandoor’ or ‘from the pots’, the food here is the perfect marriage of fusion, fun and flavour. Our top picks include the gol gappa (a bite-sized fried snack filled with potatoes and spices), grilled jumbo prawns served with a biting pineapple and jalapeno chutney and, of course, the butter chicken that is as gratifying as it is inauthentic. We dare say Daughter in Law is leading the way in tasteful fusion eats.

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Down on the southern end of the Lygon Street strip, you'll find you're no longer in Little Italy anymore. Egyptian, Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants give off more spicy aromas from their establishments and you'll even spot groups of men and women sitting around and smoking from shisha pipes. One of the most popular eateries in this area is Khabbay, a traditional Pakistani-Indian restaurant serving up some of the most delicious barbecued meats, vegetarian food, curries and biryani in Carlton. It's 100% halal and renowned as having some of the best desi food near the city, making it the perfect family-friendly spot to break your fast.

Mamak
  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

The fare at Mamak is, simply put, Malaysian hawker-style food done consistently well. What some may see as a condensed version of a typical Malaysian menu we see as an ode to championing quality, with its specialties lying in buttery roti, tender satay skewers and meals that come out fast and fiery. Its no-frills approach to Malaysian dining sees the venue heaving with patrons on all nights of the week, so be prepared to join the line of keen customers peering through the window at the roti chefs putting on a pastry-filled show. 

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With its spiced lamb skewers and hand-pulled noodles, Pasta Khan (formerly Dolan Uyghur Cuisine) has put Uyghur food on the map of Melbourne dining. Recognised as an ethnic minority in China, Uyghurs are a Turkic group residing in the Xinjiang region of Central Asia. Characterised by this merge of cultures, Uyghur cuisine is one that is as distinct as it is inviting: it's heavy on the spices, lamb and kneaded carbs. Must-orders include ahchiq quruq chop (noodles doused in roasted sesame, garlic, and chilli sauce) and the signature charcoal lamb skewers and gosh nan (buttery pastry filled with black pepper beef mince and onions). It’s no wonder the tables are full during Ramadan as soon as the sun goes down.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Melbourne

Hand-pulled noodles are also the specialty at Bowltiful, a Melbourne chain most famous for its eponymous dish. Its origins trace back to the Hui Muslims of northwest China but when owner Charlie Zhang moved to Melbourne, he decided to introduce it locally. At Bowltiful, the noodle soup is made with a light, consomme-style broth and studded with cubes of halal beef or lamb. A large window into the kitchen offers a peek into the methodical noodle-making process, offering nine different styles (round to flat and fat to thin), all from the one technique. The servings are hefty but if you’re after a true feast, a few side orders of the lamb skewers and a Lanzhou-style spiced lamb burger (otherwise known as rou jia mo) are a must.

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Since opening in 2019, Shamiat has developed a cult following for its banquet-style Syrian food and warm, generous service. In line with demand, it has since expanded to a three-part operation boasting a new and improved restaurant as well as a café and an all-day pastry shop. When the sun sets, make a beeline to the backstreets of Northcote for vibrant bowls of muhammara (a chunky walnut and red capsicum dip), cabbage rolls and makanek (spicy Syrian sausages drizzled with pomegranate molasses). Then head next door and finish the evening on a sweet note with rice pudding, syrup-doused baklawa and Syrian tea or coffee.

"Best tawouk sandwich I've had since I was in Lebanon." That's just a snippet of the glowing praise this brand new takeaway eatery has received since it opened in Brunswick East. Tawooq is focuses on bringing the flavour of Lebanese street food to Melbourne and it'll be open every night during Ramadan and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Try the shawarma or falafel spiced wraps, soujok baguettes and tasty chicken and beef burgers, with refreshing juices and smoothies to wash all the deliciousness down. 

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Northcote

There are few better ways to break fast than with a juicy cheeseburger a la 300 Grams. With the exception of bacon, all meat used is certified halal, from the signature smash-patties to the fried chicken and underrated fish fillets. There are also solid vegan options and a smattering of sweets – most notably, handmade ice cream sandwiches stuffed between two slabs of Biscoff biscuits. With locations in Northcote and Richmond, this is a strong contender for a quick and casual Ramadan feast, regardless of which side of the river you hail from. 

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick
  • price 1 of 4

A Melbourne institution in its own right, Tiba’s (almost) doesn’t need an introduction. Family owned and operated, a meal here is akin to feasting at the home of a friendly neighbour — authentic and welcoming. The menu is expansive, covering everything from shawarma wraps brimming with tabouli and tahini sauce to fresh-off-the-charcoal meat platters and loyal vegetarian sides of tangy rolled vine leaves and falafel. The Iftar set menu special includes a hefty list of soups, mixed pickles, shish kafta (spiced meatballs), chicken wings, mahalabiya (cinnamon-spiced milk pudding) and cinnamon tea. A stalwart purveyor of comfort food, Tiba’s is more of a need than a want.

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For the first year ever, Marcel's is hosting not just Iftar banquets, but also a full blown Iftar street party! Every night (and all night long) during Ramadan, they're hosting a festival of fun for the whole family outside in their car park. They'll have food trucks, decorations, a henna artist, ramadan and eid gifts, toys and educational books for the kids and much more. Indulge in camel burgers, popcorn, churros, stretchy cheese knafeh, potato twist snacks and plenty more carnival-eseque snacks at this nightly feast.

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick

It wouldn’t be a complete Ramadan food guide if Balha’s wasn’t mentioned. Another strong contender for Melbourne’s most prolific Lebanese eatery, Balha’s has been servicing the city with some of the finest and stickiest sweets for more than 30 years. Though you can’t go wrong with a classic mix of syrup-soaked baklava, what sets Balha’s apart from the rest is the traditional Lebanese sweets that can often be hard to source on this side of the globe. Expect trays of znood el sit (deep-fried pastry oozing with a sweet clotted cream and doused in rosewater syrup), mafroukeh (roasted fine semolina topped with a sweet clotted cream and sprinkled with roasted nuts), and the Ramadan-exclusive: atayef, a fried folded pancake that can come with a range of fillings, from sweetened cheese to nuts.

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This Endeavour Hills gem will be opening for both iftar (dinner) and suhoor (early breakfast) this holy season. For iftar, think starters like dates, soup and fatteh and mezza like cheese sambousik, kebbe, fried chicken drumettes, Lebanese sausages and more. There are epic barbecued meat platters for a main with traditional Lebanese rice, plus baklava and coffee for dessert. If you've never visited this beloved neighbourhood bakery before, it's a wonderful time to go and check it out. Visit Little Lebanon's Instagram to see what's on the suhoor menu, which will be available from 10pm until 3pm. Note: normal operating hours will resume after April 12. 

This legendary spot is famous for its generous food towers, old-school pizzas and cook-it-yourself meat stations, plus it's 100% halal. What could be a more satisfying meal at the end of a long day of fasting? The portions here are huge, with popular dishes including the juicy ribs with smoky barbecue sauce and creamy garlic prawns. Continuing on with the comfort food theme, desserts feature made-to-order chocolate doughnuts and shareable brownie bowls, and you can wash it all down with a round of refreshing raspberry mocktails. This restaurant accepts bookings and also has venues in Thornbury and Westmeadows with dedicated prayer areas (the Coburg venue has a Mosque conveniently across the road.) The team have just announced their Iftar menu for 2024, which is available from March 12.  

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Salamatea is a social enterprise aimed at helping new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers find their feet, gain employment and connect with community members upon their arrival in Melbourne. It’s also a purveyor of some of the city’s best Persian food, courtesy of chef and owner Hamed Allahyari. The menu is an artfully balanced melange of sweet, sour and savoury – see the fesenjun (a walnut and pomegranate stew featuring chicken or, for vegans, tofu), gheymeh (slow-cooked lamb brightened up with Persian dried lime and tomatoes) and saffron-dyed barberry rice.

Since closing its Fitzroy North location after 24 years of service, Moroccan Soup Bar has popped up in North Melbourne much to the relief of regulars. Visit on Thursday through Saturday nights for an all-vegetarian feast starring long-time favourites such as the rich, textural chickpea bake plus an array of seasonal, produce-heavy specials. As has always been the case here, the entire operation is alcohol-free and the mint tea is free-flowing, perfect for settling the stomach after an indulgent meal.

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